Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I started out in financial services as a financial advisor almost 15 years ago and now focus on money coaching, speaking and writing. In the beginning, I had always wondered about how money worked and why we never learned about it in school. It really bothered me and I realized that there had to be so many other people who were feeling lost and just hoping that they were doing the right thing. I wanted to help others by explaining financial concepts in plain English because I know how confusing all the information could be.
Now as a money coach, my team and I help women solopreneurs get financially organized, create a money plan they feel good about and follow, so they can focus on their purpose and passion, and create a fabulous financial future. I love helping professional women who are tired of not knowing where their money is going or where to put it, unsure if they’re setting up their finances the right way and are stressed about the whole thing. I help them gain clarity with all the moving parts involved so they can breathe because they know exactly what to do now and can move on with their busy lives. We say, “Level up your life and move up and on.”
What is it like to be a writer and keynote speaker?
Words are so incredibly powerful and sometimes we forget that. They can either tear down or build up. To be able to affect other people’s lives with your voice or words is such an incredible blessing. I absolutely love speaking. When you’re with the people, you can feel their emotions, their expressions and see if you’re really making an impact on them immediately. Words have the ability to make people feel love, joy, pain, tears, hope, and humor. We all have a story and journey and to be able to use your words to give others hope and encouragement is one of the most amazing things to me.
Writing is an interesting experience! There’s this story within you, but there are days when the creativity flows and there are days when you are just not feeling it at all. You have to treat it with discipline if you really want to complete the project and work at it. But again, when you think about the purpose of why you’re sharing your wisdom, experience and story and who it could possibly inspire and help, that is what keeps you going.
Any advice financial advice you want to give to entrepreneurs?
While we can focus on expenses and how to reduce them, and that is super important, I believe in abundance, so I encourage others to focus more on creating revenue. The advice I would give is to take some time to ask yourself some really important questions. What can you do to make more income and how many different streams of it can you create? What are your gifts and talents and what can you do with them to monetize them? You should be aware of your numbers: What is the minimum amount of units (whatever it is you’re selling) required for you to sell to break even? What is your most profitable product/service that you offer? What is your most popular product/service? Knowing these numbers will better help you plan out your months and quarters and help you gauge if you’re hitting your financial goals and where you need to adjust your planning, marketing, and sales funnels.
Obviously, you also want to make sure you have a system that helps you keep all of this organized and don’t be cheap or afraid to hire financial professionals who can help you stay on track, like a good CPA who works with businesses. Fixing mistakes cost more in time and money versus had it been done right from the beginning.
Any advice financial advice you want to give to Filipino Households?
I would encourage Filipino Households to become financially educated. It starts at the top and both partners need to be involved and be on the same page. Once in a while, I will run into someone who says, “My husband/wife takes care of that” referring to how money is handled in their home. I’ve said in many workshops, “There are two ways this can end, either in death or divorce. Either way it goes, you need to know what’s going on with your money.” I think households/couples need to take greater financial responsibility together and have more open conversations about how money is being handled and taken care of. Have monthly money meetings and go over the bills, expenses and any upcoming things that need attention like kids activities, family trips, out of town family wedding, big-ticket purchases (ex: new washer and dryer), things like that. Be an active partner and participant in the finances. Also, be diligent about paying down debt, saving for the short term and long term, and especially retirement. Be careful of only living in the now and forgoing future plans. I see too often elderly parents having to rely on their grown children for financial support because of a lack of planning on their part, which we know inevitably puts financial and emotional strain on everyone involved.
If there are children involved, don’t be afraid to start introducing financial concepts to them that is age appropriate. If you make talking about money feel like it’s taboo, you start to ingrain unhealthy attitudes about money within them. Be careful of your languaging around children as well. Instead of saying, “We can’t afford that.” A better alternative would be, “We choose to spend our money differently.” You are in control of your money. It’s empowering when you learn to shift your mindset in how you approach your money. Helping your children learn good financial habits and healthy attitudes towards money will set a good foundation. Start off with the concept of savings and why it’s important to not spend everything now. The earlier you can all be on the same page and pass on valuable information to your children, the better chance of them having a solid financial future. But it starts with you and you setting the example.
How can we encourage more women to become entrepreneurs?
I think that this has a lot to do with fear and uncertainty. The entrepreneurial path is not an easy one – in the beginning, there’s no steady paycheck coming in every two weeks, then there are times when you’re not booking out your calendar every single day to see clients or no one is buying your stuff. However, this is when your purpose, passion, and message is burning so deeply within you that you know that you’ve got to do this thing inside you, despite those challenges. Wherever you’re currently at, and if you’re completely miserable, it’s because you’re not doing what you’re meant to be doing and what you’ve been put on this earth to do. Stop doing things you hate doing and start living with a purpose. You know that feeling when you’re hating to get up to go to that job or boss you can’t stand? You have to do something about that. Start reading books on business or self-development, ask other people that have taken the steps before you and find out what’s involved or what it takes. Get out there and meet and connect with other people in the industry you want to get into and do your research. Being prepared to make the transition into entrepreneurship involves a lot of planning before you make that jump and that includes making sure your money is being handled properly and that there’s enough revenue coming in from your side hustle to finally make that full transition.
I also want to encourage other women to listen to that inner voice within themselves. Especially for those of us who may come from very traditional, conservative families, there is this mindset of “Go to college and get a good job.” I’m not completely against college, don’t get me wrong, but I do believe it’s not for everyone depending on what it is you want to do. Almost all of my entrepreneurial friends who are millionaires don’t even have a degree. Many of our families are coming from a place of safety and love, but they also do not understand what you’re trying to do or what it actually takes. I encourage you to pursue your dream of what YOU want. You shouldn’t be trying to live out someone else’s life, you are not here to live out someone else’s unrealized dreams, this is YOUR life. The biggest mistake any of us can make in this lifetime is to have regret. Don’t let this dream of yours die within you because you didn’t want to take a chance on yourself. Don’t fear disappointing others when in the end the only one you’ll truly be disappointing is yourself. Follow your gut and go after your passion.
What is your biggest achievement?
It would have to be my involvement with my community and being on the Board of Directors for The Youth Center, a nonprofit organization focused on providing educational and recreational programs for local children and families. I’ve been involved for several years now with their Leadership Academy which is hosted during the summer. The goal of the academy is to provide high school students and graduates with specialized training on how to handle real-world challenges outside of high school. I teach a section on managing money and it’s incredible to be able to introduce these concepts to them at this age. You know that you are making an impact on their lives by starting them on the right track. I would also have to add that working with my clients is so gratifying. When someone tells you “Thank you so much, that really helped me a lot. I feel soooo much better”, you really experience making a difference in someone’s life because you gave them clarity, direction, and hope that things are going to get better in so many ways.
What was one of your biggest struggles?
To be completely transparent, my biggest struggle has been going through the ups and downs of life and having to continue pushing through to make things happen, especially when you want to give up and just go back to what’s easier. I’ve been through a divorce, been a single parent, have lost everything and had to rebuild everything. There is also the emotional roller coaster of self negative talk and doubt. You sometimes catch yourself comparing yourself to others who are ahead of you and then you want to just quit. You have to learn how to get out of that thinking quickly. This is why it’s so important to have faith or connect to a higher source, stay grounded and know who your true self is. It’s also super important to be surrounded by people who support you, that understand you, people that are like-minded and understand your struggle and journey. I have those people in my life and sometimes I need to turn to them to knock some sense back into me when I start having crazy, self-doubting thoughts!
What does the Filipino Community mean to you?
The Filipino Community to me is a way of returning to your roots and experiencing the feeling of home away from home. There is a shared camaraderie and of course, that is usually shared amongst good Filipino food! Our community is about sharing our experiences together and supporting one another. For those of us who are second generation, it’s so important for us to not forget what our parents have done for us by giving us so many opportunities and to always remember where we came from. It’s no surprise that our community can instantly feel like family once we’re all together. You know that’s true because, within seconds, everyone is either your cousin, or your “Tito” (uncle), or our “Tita” (aunt). We are a strong, collective unit, so rich in culture, with so much to share with the world.
What do you miss most about the Philippines?
The food and hospitality, of course! Going back home to the Philippines is always an adventure and something I always look forward to. It’s always wonderful to visit with family that you haven’t seen in years and visiting all the amazing places, islands and experiencing an abundance of delicious food. It’s a different way of life. I miss the beauty of the palm trees and beaches, which most people know we’re famous for. And let’s not forget the conversion rate from American dollars to pesos – yes!
What are your future plans?
I plan to continue expanding my money coaching and plan to do more speaking, but I also have another brand that I’m super excited about developing for women that extends past just the financial, that would encompass health, relationships and other areas of life – just basically further empowering women that they can have it all.
I’m also actually making some last minute changes to my upcoming book, “Do Before I Do”, which enables couples to have open conversations about money, avoid fights and breakups, and create a blissful financial future together. It’s filled with tons of questions that couples should be asking each other before taking the next serious step in their relationship. They’re questions that explore spending habits, how your parent’s way of handling money has shaped your perception, how would your partner handle tough financial situations like the loss of a job, things like that. It opens your eyes to exploring things that you may not have discussed before, but are super crucial to cover.
Any last thing you want to plug?
If you’d like to get a FREE download of “Money Management Tips for Entrepreneurs” you can go here and if you’d like to stay connected you can find me at www.jenfontanilla.com or on Instagram @jen.fontanilla